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Li-Fi LED Light Network Delivers 1GBps Speeds in Commercial Pilot

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 (11:43 am) - Score 1,176

It’s been a long time coming but the new Light Fidelity (LiFi) technology, which can turn LED (Light-Emitting Diode) based home and office lighting or display systems into a sophisticated wireless communications network like WiFi, has finally started to reach the commercial pilot phase.

The Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology has been in the practical research and development phase for around 5 years. Indeed at the experimental level we’ve already seen data transfer speeds reach as high as 224Gbps (Gigabits per second) under lab conditions, albeit only over a 3 metre range and with a 36 – 60 degree field of view.

The potential for crazy fast local networks using visible light is thus significant and the approach is easy to understand. In simple terms, the LED lights flicker on and off thousands of times a second and by altering the length of the flickers you can introduce digital communications (not unlike flashing a torch to send Morse Code).

But results from the lab usually take a while to filter down and in the meantime the race is on to deliver a viable commercial product, with IBTimes reporting that Estonian technology company Velmenni are one of the first out of the gate with their 1GBps (GigaBytes per second) solution.

At this point we would caveat that the speed might be Gigabits rather than GigaBytes and we’re trying to find out. Otherwise it’s stated that the Li-Fi kit has already been installed within offices and industrial environments in the city of Tallinn.

Deepak Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, said:

We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology. Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the internet in their office space.”

At this point you might well be asking, when can I get my hands on one of these swanky new LiFi networks? According to Solanki, not for another 3-4 years, although that’s not to say that somebody else won’t do it far sooner than Velmenni.

However you might not want one in your home because LiFi also suffers from a number of drawbacks, such as the fact that you’d have to buy lots of very expensive new bulbs. On top of that visible light cannot penetrate through walls or other solid objects, thus it might still need to be used alongside WiFi in order to help maintain full coverage.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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